(a little bit of history repeating)
I’ve known Marisa for over twenty years. As a teenager, I began visiting the Kunsthaus Zürich almost every day; in the period that Harald Szeemann was curator, the museum was a my school and became almost a second home. I was particularly struck by “Der Hang zum Gesamtkunstwerk” (The Tendency Toward the Total Work of Art, 1983), “Spuren, Skulpturen, und Monumente ihrer prazisen Reise“ (Traces, Sculptures and Monuments of Their Precise Voyage, 1985, including works by Marisa), and Mario Merz solo show “La Città Irreale”, (The Unreal City), 1985. After a first brief encounter in Zurich, I had the extraordinary experience of visiting Mario and Marisa’s home and studio in Turin, where I returned 22 years later, on August 3 of this year, for the interview below.
Many encounters followed over the years. In 2001, I was on the international jury of Harald Szeemann’s Venice Biennale, where Marisa was assigned the Biennale di Venezia Award for lifetime achievement. When Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Laurence Bosse and I curated three years of exhibitions at Villa Medici (“La ville, le jardin, la mémoire”, Rome 1998-2000), we showed Marisa’s marvellous wax violin. In 2002, our paths crossed again in Paris, where I was living and where Marisa spent a lot of time.
I met Marisa many times, but never, on any occasion, was able to record one of our conversations; the idea of a recording made her nervous. This interview for Mousse is, I believe, her first in decades, and for me it is a dream come true. It has only just begun.
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Salibury, September 2009